Originally posted in Fall 2013.
I guess I always thought school choice was kind of like underwear.
Your kid may have Spiderman briefs. Mine may have Batman boxers. But for the most part, we are delighted that our darlings have underwear ON. And if it’s a pair that fits?
But then I sent my daughter to school.
And I entered a world where people not only thought that boxers were better than briefs. But they also thought that Spiderman trumped Batman. And get this, Jesus actually thought that everyone should wear boxers, not briefs and they should have Iron Man on them instead.
In my naïve little brain, I thought we’d all just be excited together about having a choice in “underwear” and the freedom to find a pair that would fit our kids. I really did. But then I lost myself.
Somewhere in the thick of the debate and the opinions and the my-choice-is-better-than-yours nonsense, I lost the simple gratitude that I had a choice in the first place.
If someone asked, “Why do you send your kid to public school, I’d give some “wah, wah, wah, wah” answer that I doubt I could even recall (and really, how scary is that?) I’d justify and defend my choice rather than be honest and say, “We feel really blessed to have this option and it is a great fit for our kids and our family.”
If I’d been brave I would have said (as a parent of a private school preschooler and public school kids,) “I am not the best teacher for a kindergartner and second grader. I wish I was. I wish my neurons and pathways and connections did not function in a way where a math problem that takes me an hour, only takes my daughter two minutes. But what I wish and what is needed is vastly different. What I know is that the best teachers for my Drew and Grace are right up the road at our public elementary school.”
(And let me tell ya, just writing those words hurt my teacher-trained heart…)
But I think this particular subject is begging for a little honesty.
When we attempt to defend and justify our choices, we say things that are quite frankly, not even true. We malign others’ choices simply in an attempt to feel better. And dare I even type the words, we very well could be spitting on an absolute God-breathed, Spirit-led decision.
Home. Private. Public.
SPITTING. ON. THE. SPIRIT.
So often, we just plain forget that the beauty of God’s plan is that the Holy Spirit is able to move in His kids’ hearts a million ways to Sunday. He sends us to places that others may not be told to go. He directs us down paths that will shine light here, there and everywhere.
He’s not up in heaven saying, “Public schools are devoid of Jesus. Homeschoolers are socially inept. And private schools are a waste of money.”
Ladies and gentleman, that would be us. Brothers and sisters. Throwing spit at one another.
Now you may wonder where all this came from…
Why here, why now? Why this, why that? Why the blooming underwear?
(Okay, so maybe the underwear analogy solely comes from where I live at the moment.)
But the rest comes from little Taiwanese faces. Staring out at me from a giant video screen last night at church. Piercing my ever loving heart.
Each kid goes to school in the only shelter within miles. Some days they have a teacher. Some days they don’t.
And when they don’t get an education, most of them end up being exploited by the cruel, but paying sex industry.
No one is arguing about where school should be held. No one is complaining about the type of curriculum. And no one is debating about who should teach.
Gratitude comes from finding a way to learn. No matter the roof over their head, the format of the lessons or the person in front of the room…to simply be taught. That is what brings joy and the hope of survival.
So it has me thinking, what if we in our first-world excess took the moments, the time, the energy, the breath we use to argue and battle with one another about school choice and use it instead to encourage, love and support not only those who have been led down a different path but also those who need a road on which to walk?
What if we had gratitude to have a choice?
Batman. Spiderman. Boxers. Or briefs.
What if we realized that unity doesn’t mean being the same?
It simply binds us together in an eternal purpose where Jesus is the only perfect fit.